NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS
by Greg Emmannuel
'I'm so sad,' bemoans Maura Tierney upon hearing that it's snowing in New York. The 35-year-old actor makes no bones about her preference for her permanent home in Manhattan's West Village rather than her current oceanside abode in Malibu. "I miss subways desperately. I think about them all the time. When I'm sitting in traffic, I think, If I were just on the D."
Even with her fondness for all things NYC, it would be difficult for any actor to pass up the chance to be on TV's most popular drama, ER (which is shot in L.A.). This week, Tierney joins the NBC ratings juggernaut as a regular cast member (she appeared briefly in the Thanksgiving episode), playing the part of a ten-year veteran OB nurse enrolled in medical school.
The Boston native began her acting career in 1983 as a student in NYU theater productions, and later at Gotham's Circle-in-the-Square Theater school. A few credits shy of graduation, Tierney moved to L.A. in 1987 and appeared in a number of forgettable television and film roles including Crossing the Mob and The Temp. But in 1995 she landed her best-known role as the sassy-but-insecure reporter Lisa Miller on the NBC sitcom Newsradio. She's since appeared in a number of more memorable films, including the 1997 hit Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey, and last year's Forces of Nature, but Tierney recently told TONY why she'll be concentrating her efforts on TV for awhile.
TONY: Any jitters about joining the highest-rated drama on TV?
MT: I'm very excited--and I'm very tired. Yesterday I made every single possible mistake an actor on ER could make.
TONY: Does that mean you killed somebody?
MT: No, [Laughs] nobody died. But I made technical mistakes, medical-language mistakes, mistakes with the camera. Plus, I did some bad acting. Just to throw them off.
TONY: How did you get the part?
MT: The producers called and I said, "I'd love to." Then, I had to have a meeting. But it was a nice meeting--I tried to shut up and not say anything stupid.
TONY: That's how you take a meeting?
MT: That's how I took that one.
TONY: How will your character fit in with the others?
MT: I don't know yet. There's so much going on with the characters they have now that there's a lot to work with until the end of the season. I'm just waiting to see what happens, and I think [the producers] are too.
TONY: There's no plan to hook up your character with the Croatian doctor or anything like that?
MT: I don't know, but I'll tell you that is the most frequently asked question I get, especially from my friends and family: Are you gonna have a romance? Who are they gonna hook you up with?
TONY: If you had to pick someone...
MT: Laura Innes.
TONY: That would be interesting.
MT: I love all the women on that show. I want to be all those women on that show. They're all great actresses--really smart and funny.
TONY: I think a lot of people have finally realized just how good Newsradio is from watching episodes in syndication.
MT: I think you're right. I think I finally realized it. [Laughs] I didn't watch it so much when it was on TV; it's kind of hard for me to watch myself. But now I watch the show and it's hilarious. A lot more people approach me now that Newsradio's in syndication.
TONY: The cast was great.
MT: They were all just funny people. But the people I work with now are funny too. Just because it's not a funny show doesn't mean everyone is totally serious-- I mean, I'm not talking an Andy Dick good time....
TONY: I think people think of you as being a lot like Lisa on Newsradio. Is that true?
MT: Yeah, I'm not as crazy. And I'm a more whole human being-- because 26-year-old men don't write the real story of my life as they wrote the story of Lisa's life.
TONY: In films you always seem to be playing the spurned wife or girlfriend.
MT: Help me-- I've got bad representation. No, I'm kidding. That's the jobs I get. I don't know, i think in life I'm kind of this facilitator-type person. On [Newsradio], I was a straight-man type. And I think a lot of other roles I play are to facilitate something else. It would be more fun to play characters that are just there for themselves and not serving the plot.
TONY: Any other films in the can right now?
MT: No, I'm really concentrating all my efforts toward TV. Has anyone ever said that to you before?
TONY: I don't think so. So you'd rather see your face in those small dimensions?
MT: I just want to see it in 19 inches.